I use them both. I like some of the machines for lower body work.
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16,525 4/30/13 11:48 P
I workout at home using hand weights, stability ball, bands and body weight.
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131 4/30/13 10:54 P
I definitely prefer free weights. I work out at home, but even when I was a gym-goer, I preferred them to a machine. I liked being on my feet and getting a workout. Free weights are also very versatile, which makes it very easy for me to do cardio and weight training intervals. Machines always felt restricting.
Fitness Minutes: (41,949)
1,757 4/30/13 7:45 P
I use both and really dont have a preference. When I am learning a new machine or targeting a specific area for strength...I find the machine useful to create proper form
I use free weights when I feel mastery and need to create greater strength and control
The world is full of choices....why limit your opportunity to experience them!
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697 4/30/13 7:40 P
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4,175 4/30/13 6:58 P
I prefer free weights, myself!!
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251 4/30/13 6:10 P
Thank you for asking this question. It is a question I have been asking myself the last few days. I have been using the machines. I did notice that I will use my dominant side more than the other. I am going to start using the free weights starting tomorrow.
I like to use the machines when I'm working out by myself. Plenty of classes at my gym (my preferred way to exercise) incorporate free weights. Not sure I would use them on my own, as the instructor is always showing new-to-me exercises that I enjoy but forget how to do as soon as class is over.
Fitness Minutes: (11,699)
682 4/30/13 7:04 A
I use free weights. I'd use gym equipment but there is no room in my home. Free weights can be moved anywhere in the house I want to go. They do a great job without a big investment. I made substantial progress on my upper body strength with free weights. Plus free weights are cheaper. With my location, I can't work out in a gym.
I normally adore free weights, because with free weights I can combine moves (lunges and triceps kickbacks, squats and overhead press) for a more complete, challenging workout. Using free weights also gives you a chance to work on your balance, and there's just more variety to what you can do!
However, now that I'm pregnant, I am actually going to go back to using machines. Their limited range of movement and targeted exercises mean that I won't injure myself OR the baby/placenta as my center of gravity and relaxing joints cause me to lose my balance. I still plan on doing body weight exercises, like planks and squats, but for my upper body, the machines are just safer now.
So don't be so quick to judge folks using the machines! We need to use machines for more reasons than just feeling "like a noob!"
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Fitness Minutes: (6,835)
610 4/30/13 5:59 A
I tend to stay away from machines, simply because I want the most bang for my buck. I know if I'm doing free weight movements, I'm involving small and large muscle groups, engaging my core, and getting my heart rate up. I do like the cable machine in some instances, but that's because it can engage a lot more muscle groups than normal machines that only target one or two muscles.
That being said, there are plenty of movements you can utilize that don't require a spotter. I'm a huge proponent of squats and lunges, lower-weight presses involving your arms (overhead, and incline bench, especially), and movements requiring only your body weight. If you're looking to do some of those types of movements, I really like some of the workouts from AngryTrainerFitness.com. He has some great movements that you can do at home with minimal equipment, and focuses on utilizing ALL of your muscles. It's always nice to shake things up! :)
I would recommend getting the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. It has routines already spelled out for you with pictures and descriptions of all the moves. It combines body weight, free weight and machine exercises so you can get comfortable in all areas of the gym. This book totally changed the way I look at strength training!
Fitness Minutes: (227,455)
24,883 4/22/13 8:13 P
The Lat Pull Down and the Leg Press are my 2 Favorite Machines so far. Even when I do transition to Free Weights, I am sure I will still use the machines occasionally.
I'm a free-weights gal... only because that's what I'm familiar with from doing years and years of home workouts with Cathe, etc.
I don't like the machines much at the gym, mostly because I'm coming from the opposite side. I have no freaking clue how to use most of them (yes, I need to get a staff member to show me around sometime.)
Of the machines I do know how to use, I do like to use them, but I do them in conjunction with free weights, as well.
On my upper body days, I like to use the lat pulldown machine - I swear it is the ONLY exercise I can do where I will really feel that I've worked my lats the next day. I can do lat rows with free weights til the cows come home but never feel it the following day, and I think part of that challenge is that I really need to go heavy and if I stick to heavy enough free weights for that particular exercise, my forearms start to burn too much and my form goes to hell. So I'm a lat pulldown machine lover. But all my other upper body work is via free weights.
Leg days I do like to hit the leg press machine, and occasionally I'll use the extension machines that will isolate my quads and hamstrings, but I really hit my muscles hard in the free weights section with all the usual leg exercises.
I might try out the other machines some day... but yeah... they look too dang complicated. It's so much easier for me to pick up a dumbbell and just get to it than figuring out how to sit or stand, what lever to pull and what item to adjust before I start. ;)
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1,339 4/21/13 7:37 P
Thank you for saying all of that. It helps. :)
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354 4/21/13 3:59 P
1] 43 is young 2] To my continued chagrin - 95% of people in gyms are noobs and stay that way because they rarely ask the right questions of the right people.If you hired someone to show you good form on squats, deadlifts, bench ohp and row you would be outperforming most of the guys in the weights room. OK not lifting more but doing the movements better and with more effect. 3] If you never did anything else apart from those BASIC moves in a simple routine you would get results either in terms of strength or "toning". For the latter you'd just have to change diet in a simple cycle - not routine. You would save hours in the gym... 4] THE question is "what results are you looking for?". Too many people go to the gym to "do time" irrespective of the effects of the exercise they are doing. Machines foster this attitude. You can do ten exercises in 20 minutes..therefore strength training has been completed. 5] Try going into the weights room.. It is unlikely the guys there will spit on you. They will hardly notice you. They are either focused on their routine ( the serious ones) or sitting on the bench press waiting for the phone to ring so they can say at the top of their voice "yes- I'm in the gym at the moment" :)
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1,339 4/21/13 1:07 P
"6] The saving grace of machines is that they keep people who do not know how to train and are not really looking for results out of the free weights area..."
See, I think this attitude is a problem. I would like to use free weights, but as a 43 year old woman and complete noob I have the feeling that if I so much as stepped foot into that area, I'd get spit on. Everyone has to start somewhere, and "not really looking for results" is repressingly judgmental.
For now I prefer machines (where I don't or can't use bodyweight instead) purely out of intimidation as regards learning/asking for help.
Fitness Minutes: (2,704)
121 4/21/13 12:33 P
There is a lot you can do without a spotter. I only occasionally bench press and don't do more than I know I can handle safely. Dumbbells are a good place to start out with free weights. I think the machines are dangerous because they allow you to build up a lot of strength in major muscles in isolation without building the stabilizers and core strength in tandem, so then one day you try something in "real life" based on the strength of your quads and hamstrings, but oops, the stabilizing back and core muscles aren't up to snuff, and you're suddenly injured.
Free weights allow compound movements as well, so they minimize the time needed to get a good workout. I don't know of any machine that can approach as full-body of an exercise as a Turkish get-up or deadlift.
Fitness Minutes: (1,285)
354 4/21/13 12:06 P
Resounding no here:
1] Machines can be just as dangerous as free weights. Leg extension machines, abductor machines, Smith machines all have a very bad track record. Even leg presses (actually a good machine) can be used very badly and cause injury.
2] Invariably they isolate muscle groups. Isolation exercises have little merit unless your core strength is good. Core strength is won from squats, deadlifts, OHP Rows.bench.
3] They impose form on you.Usually the best/most efficient way to lift a weight is straight up. Machines invariably have a lever system that makes you perform an arc. However variable they are machines will not necessarily fit your body. This again can cause injury
4] With free weights you can increase the weight you are lifting by as little as 0.5 pounds. Increasing weight in a small incremental way with weights is key to success. Most weight machines go up in large steps ( and those steps will alter with friction etc) so you are out of control of the increment. This is very bad.
5] I use the gym a lot. Toned ( low bodyfat/well muscled) people do not generally use machines - they use free weights. The evidence is there.
6] The saving grace of machines is that they keep people who do not know how to train and are not really looking for results out of the free weights area...
I used to use free weights but I am using machines this time. Mainly because I am going to the gym with my sister and that's what she prefers. When I lost my weight the first time I wasn't a member of a gym so that was a big part of it I'm sure.
Free weights will work a broader range of muscles than machines, as they have to work harder to keep you balanced and stabilized, while machines run in a defined track, so use far fewer minor stabilizing muscles.
But machines can definitely be a good place to start out strength training: * they are a little more forgiving of poor form (although form is important even for machines) * when you are starting out, and have less idea of what the appropriate weight is, it is just a matter of lift/cannot lift, versus dropping a weight that is too heavy for you. * when recovering from injury, the defined track of a machine can help protect a weakened muscle/tendon, while still getting in some effective strength training.
I like to use both. Admittedly I used to be much heavier on free weights but after injuring my wrist, I find that certain machines allow me to work muscle groups that would be very difficult to do on free weights without using my wrist (because you have to hold the weight with your hands in most cases). For example I never even glanced at the pec deck or rowing torso machines but now they are saving me from going backwards on chest and rear delts while my wrist thinks about whether it's going to heal this year. I also like to do both machine and free weight exercise for the same basic exercise, for example I do good mornings (barbell), back extensions in an apparatus (holding plates), and the selectorized back extension machine even though they're all very similar. I also like to use the lying leg curl machine to supplement my free weight and bodyweight leg routine. And when I started learning to do pullups, I used the assisted pullup machine constantly. Now I use it to do assisted one-arm pullups. I also love cable machines!! I think if I ever decided to set up a home gym, a cable station would be the first thing I would get. There are so many things you can do on them! And the lat pulldown is another decent machine (though I've stopped using it because of my wrist).
I believe there is a place for all types of exercise in a balanced gym program -- free weights, bodyweight, machines, cardio, flexibility, agility, etc. Why not?
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13,532 3/29/13 5:35 P
99.9% of people use machines in a way that minimize core involvement..I admittedly use machines once in awhile, but my body doesn't fit into most of them comfortably.
Fitness Minutes: (227,455)
24,883 3/29/13 4:27 P
Lec & DV I don't disagree with any of the points you have made. I do think the Free Weights are Great, and a session with a Trainer would be Good, but I don't 'Click' with the Trainer at My Gym. I have approached the Female Several times with unsatisfactory results, and the male trainer seemed very uninterested in giving me information on the machine I was asking about. And, yes, I have mentioned the Female Trainer to the company. I can not tell that anything was done. You Tube is a Great Resource for learning about the Free Weights as well as the Machines. I am becoming a YouTube Junkie.
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
2,533 3/29/13 4:14 P
Don't be intimidated by free weights! Using free weights allows you to move the way your body is meant to move rather than in some motion that is not at all functional (see the thigh ad/abductor machines). Also, most of the time the machines are not calibrated correctly/overused so you're actually lifting less weight than what the label says.
If you don't think you know enough, *ask.* Gym personnel are trained to help people learn to use free weights properly so use the resource. Most gyms offer a free PT session to new members anyway. And finally, *everybody* adjusts their weights when using free weights! I can't count how many times I grabbed a set of dumbbells, set up for an exercise and then realized that the weight was too much/little and had to readjust. Try it, you'll like it!
Its important to do what you like to do and the benefit of the machines is that they are fairly simple to use. Proper form is still needed, but it is easier to achieve. The machines for the most part work your large muscle groups. Back, legs, chest, arms. They do not really address your core at all, or any of your smaller muscle groups. When I first started out in the gym I stuck to the machines but I got bored with them after awhile and I really wanted to do other stuff. I hired a trainer and she showed me a bunch of new stuff to do using my own body weight, free weights, bosu ball, stability ball, medicine ball. Years have passed and I will still occasionally use the machines. It's just fun to have a whole host of exercises to work with.
Fitness Minutes: (3,449)
310 3/29/13 3:34 P
I do all my strength stuff on machines, though its mostly for the reasons you gave; I don't know enough about free weights to know that I'm doing them properly, and figure the machines are far harder to do something seriously stupid on. Also, I'm still figuring out what I *can* do, so its simpler for me to pull a pin to change weights vs getting embarrassed over switching barbells or altering the weights several times before getting to actually do the workout.
Fitness Minutes: (227,455)
24,883 3/29/13 2:56 P
I know that in many ways Free Weights are the Preferred Exercise for many people -- Men & Women. I do know that there are many Benefits to the Free Weights and I may decide to do the at some point in the future. However most of the time I work out alone -- i.e. No Spotter, and No One to Double Check my form. Seems safer to do machines. Plus, I ENJOY the machines! Anyone else out there prefer the Machines to the Free Weights?
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